The very first day I started working at that hypermarket, I met a former hotel colleague who informed me that Encik Rosman (he was the assistant manager during my three-year stint at the hotel - he was the Front Office Manager before his death) was terminally ill with liver cancer. I was truly shocked to hear the news because he was one of the nicest people I knew.
Ever since I knew about his worsening health, I had wanted to visit him. But I was unsure when was the best time to visit. For one thing, my day off was on Friday and I wasn't sure if visiting him would disrupt his Friday prayers. And then there was the fact that I didn't know what would be appropriate to bring as a gift.
In the end, I decided to call my friend and former receptionist colleague to ask her opinion. She was surprised to hear the news about Encik Rosman's illness, and we then decided to visit him together on my revised day off (the hypermarket restricts days off on Fridays and Saturdays - the busiest days of the week), which was on Wednesday.
It was a good thing I went with her, because I did not know Encik Rosman's parents (they were taking care of him while his wife was working) and she did most of the talking. To be honest, I couldn't really hear what she was saying because most of the time, she was whispering while Encik Rosman was having his shower. Add to the fact that she was speaking in a Kelantanese dialect.
I saw him when he was done with his shower and he looked so different. He was deathly thin, except for his swollen stomach and legs. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes had a yellow tinge to them. He said that he still had a healthy appetite and on hearing that, I had some confidence that he would hang in there for some time yet. He first knew about his condition in February 2007. He had stomach pains and rushed to the emergency room at the general hospital. The doctor there diagnosed him with 'work stress' and sent him home. When he returned the next day complaining of the same symptoms, the same doctor was there and prescribed pain-killers! He finally found out after visiting a private clinic/hospital.
During this visit to see Encik Rosman, I also learnt that Asmadi (he was a bellman during my time there) had passed away after being diagnosed with bone cancer last year. He managed to get six chemotherapy sessions before the cancer killed him four months after his diagnosis. He was around 27 or 28, and he was married. According to my friend, his wife has now remarried.
So just after lunch on Sunday, my friend called me and I was shocked to hear that Encik Rosman had passed away on Friday night. He slipped into a coma on Friday morning and never regained consciousness. I am so glad that I managed to visit him before his passed on. He had apologized for any wrong-doings that he may have done to me in the past and I apologized as well. I am still trying to get to grips with the fact that I saw him alive on Wednesday morning and now, he's no longer with us.
I don't know how I would have felt if I allowed myself to get closer to people who smoked. I have always maintained that I could never be a good friend to a smoker because good friends would never allow their friends to kill themselves like that. I could never stand by and let someone I care for go down that path to suffering and agonizing death. While Encik Rosman did quit smoking three years prior to his death (he had to stop when he had his tonsils taken out), it was too little too late. Asmadi was a heavy smoker too.
It's 2am, time for bed.